My great-grandparents came from the Carpatho-Rusyn area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Ukraine) and came to St Clair, Pennsylvania. Carpatho-Rusyns are generally Eastern Catholics whose churches use the Byzantine Rite. Yesterday, I took pictures of five Byzantine Rite parish churches in St Clair. Some of these are Eastern Orthodox churches and others are Greek Catholic churches.
Slavic peoples from Carpatho-Rus, Czechoslovakia, and Galicia established St. Michael the Archangel United Greek Catholic Russian Orthodox Church in the 1890s and used a hall, purchased from the Episcopalians in 1897. The current St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church, on North Nicholas Street, was completed in 1932. St. Michael’s is in the jurisdiction of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
In the early years, many families beloning to various ethnic groups would leave the initially united Orthodox and Greek Catholic St. Michael’s Church to form their own parishes in town. The first to do so were a group primarily composed of Galicians, joined by some families from Carpatho-Russia and Russia. They founded a Russian Orthodox parish in 1900, constructing the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in 1907-1908 on Nicholas Steet. Saint Mary Orthodox Church is a parish of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
In 1904, a group of Ukrainians decided to form a church, St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Galician-Russian Church, now called Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. The church on North Morris Street was completed in 1906. Today, it appears to be affiliated with St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Shenandoah, a parish of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
Another group of Ukrainians, who had emigrated from a part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire known as Lemkivschina, founded St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1922, with the church building being completed the following year. The church became Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1944, but closed in 2008. The building is now for sale.
Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church was founded by a group of Carpatho-Rusyns, who left St. Michael’s and for a time attended St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. In the 1920s, they rented a hall and then built their own Byzantine Catholic church in 1931-1932.
Also in St. Clair are three adjacent cemeteries: Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cemetery (1905), Saint Michael’s United Greek Catholic Russian Orthodox Cemetery (1910) andHoly Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cemetery (1925).